UK Port Anticipates Record Number of Cruise Passengers

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2024 is going to be an exciting year for cruising in the UK, as Portsmouth International Port is gearing up to welcome more cruisers than ever before and ten new ships. 

Portsmouth International Expects Record Number Of Cruise Passengers in 2024 

With 10 cruise ships making their debut at Portsmouth International Port in 2024 and many familiar vessels returning, it’s going to be a busy year with some big milestones! 

The UK port released its full cruise schedule for 2024, and is expecting to welcome approximately 155,000 passengers to its cruise terminal, which is a record high and something to celebrate for Portsmouth. 

Located just 19 miles (31 kilometers) from the more familiar Southampton, Portsmouth International Port has been better known as a large naval and military installation, but is excited by the prospect of enticing more cruise lines to visit. 

Portsmouth has gone to great lengths to promote growth in the number of cruise ships docking at the port annually, including undertaking a major berth extension and building an innovative new cruise terminal, in an effort to breathe new life into Portsmouth’s tourism sector. 

The port’s cruise terminal extension was built with a focus on sustainability and is designed to be carbon neutral. This transformative project, which took 18 months to complete, welcomed its first cruise ship, Saga Cruise’s Spirit of Discovery, on August 20, 2023. 

The revolutionary terminal is valued at £11.25 million ($14.34 million USD), and is currently on track to create more energy than it uses – with more sustainability efforts in the works. 

“We also have some big infrastructure developments underway to further expand our offering for cruise lines,says Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Portsmouth City Council’s Cabinet Member. 

“This includes shore power capabilities, which will allow ships to plug-in to green electricity and switch off their engines whilst in port, improving air quality and slashing carbon emissions,” adds Vernon-Jackson.

Many cruisers visiting Portsmouth during 2024 will have the opportunity to see the new terminal for themselves. Among the familiar vessels slated to return to the port this year and make use of the terminal are Virgin Voyages and Saga Cruises.

Mein Schiff 3, Portsmouth
Mein Schiff 3, Portsmouth (Photo Credit: Port of Portsmouth)

Virgin Voyages has been sailing to Portsmouth since 2021 and has since made Portsmouth their UK port of call. Beginning in August 2024, Resilient Lady will be taking cruisers on three to six-night sailings throughout the UK, Amsterdam, and Zeebrugge (Bruges), Belgium. 

Saga Cruises will return to Portsmouth earlier in the year, offering round-trip itineraries from the port throughout January and February of 2024 onboard Spirit of Adventure and Spirit of Discovery. 

Read Also: IDEAL Things to Do in Southampton, UK

Spirit of Adventure will be sailing to the Canary Islands and Spirit of Discovery will be sailing to both the Canary Islands and the Caribbean. Additionally, Portsmouth International Port will be welcoming 10 new vessels for the first time. 

“There are a number of maiden calls to look forward to including two new operators, Regent Seven Seas and new brand Compagnie Française de Croisières (CFC), which will be calling into Portsmouth for the first time in April,” says Andrew Williamson, head of cruise and ferry at Portsmouth International Port. 

The success of Portsmouth follows in the footsteps of a victorious year for Southampton. In 2023, the UK’s biggest port generated more than 1 billion pounds and welcomed over 2.6 million passengers in a big win for the economy and tourism industry. 

Portsmouth International Port To Welcome its Biggest Ship Yet

Of the many new ships visiting Portsmouth for the first time in 2024, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Star is particularly important because it will become the biggest ship to ever dock in the port to date.

Norwegian Star Cruise
Norwegian Star Cruise (Photo Credit: StudioPortoSabbia)

The ship is scheduled to debut in Portsmouth on May 8, 2024, from where it will embark on a round-trip 10-night British Isles cruise. 

The vessel’s arrival will break the record set by Mein Schiff 3 of TUI Cruises in May of 2023. Weighing in at 99,536 gross tons and measuring 962 feet in length, Mein Schiff 3 can hold up to 2,500 passengers and is manned by approximately 1,000 crew members.

Meanwhile, Norwegian Star is 965 feet long and can hold 2,348 guests at double occupancy, as well as 1,031 crew members. Her gross tonnage is 91,740.

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